Make 2021 a Win for Wildlife
The City Nature Challenge, our perennial spring event, is ready to take flight! Here’s a look at a few standout species caught on camera by last year's local and global urban nature explorers
City Nature Challenge is April 30 to May 3, 2021.
Andrea Kreuzhage, a filmmaker and avid iNaturalist user, had found the nest full of baby blue eggs while walking along the side of the road a few weeks earlier. The parks and nature preserves in Los Angeles County had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and wanting to comply with lockdown protocols while still making urban wildlife observations, Kreuzhage would spend an hour or so at a time walking along stretches of public road, peering into the vegetation for signs of life.
Returning again to observe the nest during the 2020 City Nature Challenge (CNC), she discovered that the eggs had hatched. Four plump, downy chicks occupied the nest under the watchful gaze of a sharp-eyed green heron. “It's so nice in times of crisis to see breeding happening, you know, nature doing what nature does,” said Kreuzhage. “Life goes on.”
Despite the limitations of the pandemic, the 2020 event attracted the most participants yet. What began in 2016 as a friendly competition between community scientists in San Francisco and Los Angeles, ballooned to an international event with more than 41,000 participants in 244 cities. Lila Higgins, the Museum's Senior Manager of Community Science and co-creator of the CNC, said that she thinks the event has been so successful because it “speaks to the want, the need, and the desire to connect with nature that was already out there.” To take part in the event, participants search the urban landscape for wildlife, using the iNaturalist app to document their findings and connect with other Challenge participants all over the world.
During the 2020 Challenge, organizers encouraged participants to be safe, respect the lockdown guidelines implemented in their communities, and to consider emphasizing observations around their home. Jeremy Gilmore, a high school student in Cape Town, South Africa, did just that, making a whopping 834 observations of 394 species around his home and garden. “Because of the restrictions, of course, we're all stuck inside. So it was all reporting species in the garden: insects, birds, plants, the whole lot,” said Gilmore. “I would never have expected to find so much in such a small area.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the CNC is on for 2021. Again, event organizers are emphasizing safe practices, but also believe the Challenge can be a positive activity during a difficult time. “It was…so nice to connect to the global community on iNaturalist,” said Kreuzhage. “To see that, even though we can't really be physically together right now, that we were still all together [for the CNC].”
Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) observed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by rhbastardo
Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) observed in Brisbane, Australia by kjroam
Grey-headed Flying-Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) observed in Victoria, Australia by rover-rod. This animal is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List and is endemic to Australia.
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